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Vegan cheeseburger salad, dressing drizzled on top, on a plate with fork and neutral napkin.
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4.70 from 10 votes

"Cheeseburger" Salad with Special Sauce

OMG! This "Cheeseburger" Salad with Special Sauce is reminiscent of a Big Mac, but so much better. It's totally plant-based and made with lentil walnut burger meat and a cashew cream sauce. 
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cheeseburger salad
Servings: 6
Calories: 334kcal


Burger "Meat"

  • 1 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Special Sauce

  • 1/2 cup cashews soaked for 1 hour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • chopped lettuce tomatoes and green onions; pickle slices; and shredded cheddar cheese, for serving


  • To make the burger "meat," press Sauté and add the olive oil to the Instant Pot. Once the oil is hot but not smoking, add the onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Press Cancel to stop the cooking cycle.
  • Stir in the garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, cumin, and black pepper while the pot is still hot. Add the green lentils and water, and stir to make sure the lentils are covered in the liquid for even cooking. Secure the lid and move the steam release valve to Sealing. Select Manual/Pressure Cook to cook on high pressure for 5 minutes.
  • While the lentils are cooking make the special sauce. Drain and rinse the cashews, then add them to a blender with the water, vinegar, maple syrup, tomato paste, mustard, onion, powder, and salt. Blend until very smooth and set aside.
  • White the cooking cycle on the burger "meat" is complete, let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes, them move the steam release valve to Venting to release any remaining pressure. When the floating device valve drops, remove the lid and stir in the salt and chopped walnuts.
  • Fill a bowl with chopped lettuce, the burger "meat," tomatoes, green onions, pickles, and cheese. Drizzle plenty of the special sauce over the top before serving. Store leftovers in three separate airtight containers- - for the dressing, the burger "meat," and the vegetables -- in the fridge for 1 week.


  • Make it vegan: omit the cheddar cheese or use a dairy-free sub.
  • Make the burger "meat" without an Instant Pot: Cook lentils by adding 1 cup green lentils into a large saucepan with 2 cups of water. Bring to a rapid simmer (almost boil), cover saucepan and reduce heat. Simmer until lentils are tender, about 20-30 minutes, adding more water as needed to make sure the lentils are just barely covered. Once lentils are tender you can drain any access liquid. Meanwhile, add olive oil to a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, cumin, salt, black pepper and chopped walnuts while the pot is still hot. Once lentils are cooked, stir them in as well. Use the burger "meat" as instructed in the recipe.


Serving: 1salad with 2 tablespoons special sauce | Calories: 334kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 15g | Fiber: 17g